Friday, June 28, 2013

FLYERS: Danny Briere...Thank You

June 21, 2013

By Nick Tricome

So the reports were true.

On Thursday, the Flyers confirmed that Danny Briere will have his contract bought out 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final ends. Then, he will be a free agent.

It's the end of an era in Flyers history, but endings allow time for reflection.

It has been just under seven years since Briere signed an eight-year, $52,000,000 contract with Philadelphia.

The 2006-07 season was the worst in the Flyers' history; a team that had a whole lot missing finished with the worst record in hockey.

With Paul Holmgren taking over as general manager, the Flyers acquired a lot of players that would go on to shape the outlook of the team over the years at the 2006-07 trade deadline and in the 2007 off-season.

They got Braydon Coburn in a trade with Atlanta at the deadline, and then traded with Nashville for Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell in the off-season.

But the biggest highlight of summer 2007 for the Flyers was the center they signed out of a free agent class that had two other highly touted centers in Chris Drury and Scott Gomez: it was Briere.

Since that summer, the Flyers made the playoffs every season, with the exception of this past lockout-shortened one.

Although Briere's regular season production never lived up to the steep price of his contract, he more than made up for it come playoff time.

How far the Flyers would go in the playoffs was always uncertain, but one thing was almost always guaranteed: Danny Briere was going to score, and he was going to score a lot.

It was sometimes unbelievable how quickly Briere could flip the switch once April rolled around, but he did it time and time again.

It never seemed to matter whether Briere had a 30-goal season or a 16-goal season, because he was going to find the back of the net once the puck dropped in game one of the playoffs. His 37 goals across 68 playoffs games is a testament to that.

In fact, Briere scored seven of those goals in last year's glorious first round series against the Penguins.  Then he scored the overtime winner in game one of the second round against the Devils. 

He, along with his teammate Claude Giroux, led the playoffs in goals until the Stanley Cup Final... and they were eliminated in the second round.  Think about that.

It took until the Stanley Cup Final for someone on the Los Angeles Kings or the New Jersey Devils to score as many goals as Briere did, and he played in way fewer games than them. He truly earned the name Mr. Playoffs.

But, as great a playoff performer as Briere was for the Flyers, it couldn't be denied that he had a rough regular season in the 2011-12 campaign.

With compliance buyouts being introduced as a result of the lockout's end, another bad season for Briere, and no playoffs for the Flyers in 2013, rumors started spreading that the Flyers were going to use one of those buyouts on him.

It's unfortunate, given how much of a fan-favorite he is in Philadelphia, but it made sense. The Flyers had to clear up cap space to make moves that will hopefully improve the team. Keeping a 35-year old player with a $6.5 million cap hit for the next two years, that only scored six goals this season, isn't one of the best ideas if you're running an NHL team.

However, knowing that Briere's run in Philadelphia is over is still bittersweet.

Yes, the fact that one of the most beloved players in franchise history isn't a Flyer anymore is sad, but he did give Flyers fans some great memories over the past six years.

Even though he will be playing for a different team next season, Briere loves Philadelphia so much that he said this city is what he and his kids consider home.

So, Danny Briere, thank you for all the memories.

Thank you for showing us that even the little guy can play in the big leagues.

Thank you for all the goals you scored on the Penguins in the playoffs and the ones you scored on the Sabres the year before.

Thank you for re-scoring that overtime goal against the Devils in the second round.

Thank you for scoring the tying goal in game seven against Boston. The one that kept 2010's historic comeback alive.

Thank you, especially, for your shootout goal against the Rangers on the last day of the 2010 season. The goal that would help launch an incredible and unexpected run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Thank you for all the other clutch playoff goals, and getting the goal horn changed to Doop.

Thank you for showing us you could fight, and completing the hat-trick in that same game to win it in overtime.

Thank you for never shying away from the media, even during tough times.

Thank you for being a source of leadership for the team, for giving Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier a place to live, and for wearing the orange and black with pride night-in and night-out.

Thank you for choosing Philadelphia in the first place, and being the perfect example of what it means to be a Philadelphia Flyer.

As long as you consider Philadelphia home, you will always be welcomed.

Thanks for everything, Danny. 

Maybe you will finally get to hoist the Stanley Cup with whatever team you go to next.

(Cover Image from

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